In March, the New Jersey Healthy Kids Initiative (NJHKI) partnered with Forging Youth Resilience (FYR) to deliver nutrition curriculum for FYR’s national network of 24 clubs at the FYR Local Club Summit in Denver, CO.
FYR is a nonprofit organization with the mission to empower young people to build physical and mental strength by supplying access to community-based fitness programs. Local clubs partner with gyms around the country to deliver fitness, nutrition, and mentorship to young people who otherwise may not have access to such services.
This year’s Local Club Summit included the launch of FYR’s nutrition curriculum, which was developed by the NJHKI team and the Institute for Food, Nutrition and Health (IFNH) student ambassadors. NJHKI’s Peggy Policastro, director of Culinary Literacy and Nutrition, and Erin Comollo, program development administrator, led the nutrition curriculum seminar, which highlighted two of12 lessons in the curriculum series and allowed club leaders to practice administering each lesson to small groups. Each nutrition lesson was designed for youth athletes, with a focus on improving fitness via nutrition and culinary education.
“After the summit, I have so much curriculum and new information to teach and create a more robust program,” said Denise Montagu, local club leader at FYR Boulder, CO.
“I am leaving feeling connected, inspired, and energized about our work,” said Comollo, NJHKI’s program development administrator, as she summarized her experience at the summit.
The summit also afforded NJHKI team members the opportunity to receive invaluable training that will aid their goal to onboard a local FYR club for the surrounding New Brunswick area youth.
“A local New Brunswick club will aid NJHKI in its mission to improve child health through nutrition and physical activity while incorporating its core values of health equity and community partnership,” said Policastro, who is also the director of behavioral nutrition at Rutgers IFNH.
FYR’s annual Local Club Summit gathers club leaders from across the country for training in areas like inclusive leadership, trauma-informed coaching, and local club best practices. Summit attendees are encouraged to return to their local clubs and continue to provide young athletes with skills to overcome adversity beyond the walls of a gym.
Among the youth population that FYR aims to reach are those from under-resourced families or neighborhoods, involved in the justice system and experiencing homelessness.